By PT Staff, published on March 1, 2005 - last reviewed on March 14, 2005
Bad Rehearsals, Great Debuts A new study of songbirds holds important lessons for parents. Sleep helps young birds learn the art of song, and it does so in a surprising way. When birds first wake up, they are dramatically worse singers than they were the day before. But birds that initially perform the worst during their morning "rehearsals" eventually become the best singers. Sleep may have the same effects on learning in human infants.
Brush Up On Heart Health Regular brushing is, of course, central to dental health. But it can also ward off strokes and cardiovascular disease. The same bacteria that cause gum disease have been shown to harden and narrow the arteries. The bacteria can apparently migrate from the mouth to other areas of the body. A Lullaby for Adults Older people sleep better and longer if they listen to soothing, quiet music at bedtime. The effects seem to be greatest for people with mild sleeping problems than for those with more severe insomnia.
54 In millions, the number of Americans who report having participated in "binge drinking" -- meaning they had five or more drinks in one sitting -- at least once in the past month, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That's 23% of the population.
How Now Green Tea? Adding to a growing list of beneficial effects, Japanese researchers have found that regular consumption of green tea can boost your exercise endurance capacity significantly. The active ingredients are a class of antioxidants called catechins, and they also stimulate muscles to burn fat for fuel.
The Speed Lane to Aging Talk on a cell phone while you're driving and even if you are 20 years old you'll be driving like a 70-year-old. Your reaction times will be significantly delayed and you'll be at increased risk of accidents, University of Utah researchers found when they put 18- to 25-year-olds in a driving simulator and handed them cell phones.
Gender Gap in Depression The pathways to depression are different for men and women. A long-term study of identical twins by Kenneth S. Kendler at Virginia Commonwealth University shows that women are far more prone to depression than men when they perceive social support is lacking. Women who feel loved and supported by their friends are less at risk for major depression than men.
53.5 In milligrams, average amount of beneficial flavonoids found in a bar of dark chocolate, compared with 14 in milk chocolate and none at all in white chocolate. Flavonoids are natural antioxidants that help protect the heart and arteries, among many other health effects.
A Toast to Memory Women who drink a daily glass of wine, beer or liquor have about a 20% lower risk of eventually developing memory and thinking problems. The moderate dose of alcohol appears to preserve mental powers by improving blood flow, which is also why light drinkers show superior cardiovascular health.
Men, IQ and Suicide Men who perform better on IQ tests in early adulthood have a lower subsequent risk of suicide, a study has found. The link is particularly strong with logical reasoning: Those who score poorly in this ability are three times more likely to commit suicide than the highest scorers.
Mindful Recovery For some time, scientists have known about the "mirroring" system in our brains; it responds to actions we spectate, such as a dancer's leap or a martial arts sequence. New research shows that the system responds most actively if we are personally skilled at the moves we're watching. The finding suggests that mental imaging could help stroke victims recover function. And injured athletes may continue to train simply by observing others play their game.
25 The percentage increase in deaths from prescription drug mishaps during the first days of each month. The rise in mistakes is probably due to a corresponding increase in pharmacists' workloads. The beginning of each month is when many Americans are suddenly flush with cash from social security and paychecks.